Building on Tradition - Obama's AMA Speech
What are not legitimate concerns are those being put forward claiming a public option is somehow a Trojan horse for a single-payer system. I'll be honest. There are countries where a single-payer system may be working. But I believe - and I've even taken some flak from members of my own party for this belief - that it is important for us to build on our traditions here in the United States. So, when you hear the naysayers claim that I'm trying to bring about government-run health care, know this - they are not telling the truth.
Tradition? Like Fiddler on the Roof? Tradition? . Lets talk about tradition. In the 50's it was traditional, to step outside for a cigarette. The top stars in film and TV constantly smoked. Humphrey Bogart was commonly depicted with a cigarette dangling from his lips.
In the early sixties, research that was kept tightly circulated within Big Tobacco corporate interoffice memoranda showed a troubling connection to their product killing off 60,000 of their best customers a year. Following the traditional corporate model, this information was supressed and a large public relations and marketing campaign was launched to marry the traditional, rugged image of cowboys and pioneers to the concept of sucking a carcinogen into your lungs for entertainment. Tradition, in those days, meant you smoked a cigarette after sex.
And like these interoffice corporate memoranda, Big Healthcare funded internal studies (that still haven't seen the light of day ) which assessed the threat of the post WWII National Health System, in Britain and found that their version of it - didn't stack. In the early 60's , after having made significant campaign contribution, Ed Kaiser saw fit to successfully lobby the Nixon presidency on this point. He proposed an iterative solution: the HMLO. Nixon stood before the Television Cameras and proclaimed promises of the HMO to bring "more and better healthcare to all Americans". Blink. Blink. Blink.
Is this kind of corporate suppression, or pay for play - American tradition? Certainly today corporations, through the mechanism of lobbyism, have attained unprecedented control over American institutions. But does suppressing a healthcare option that could save human lives - equate to tradition?
America has a tradition of being a pioneer. Of establishing workable models based on ideals. Britain's system, founded as a means of saying thanks to the Veterans of World War II, for their service to their country - must have troubled big Healthcare greatly.
After Ed Kaiser helped start the HM, big Healthcare proceeded to install an internecine web of billing procedures, practices - opened the door to medical fraud, waste, and a continued disappearance of America from the international healthcare radar screen. Crippled by bureaucracy far worse than a government solution.
Try this hospital puzzler: ask someone at billing how much a procedure costs. If you don't get a blank stare, you'll probably get an "I'll get back to you on that". Later, you'll find that the hospital set up complex systems of marking procedures up, or down, based on the provider's billing practice. This is not a free market - it is a spaghetti coded system of effed practices crossing out the benefit of effed up practics.
America's tradition is to lead. Obama's speech to the AMA today indicates he is that kind of leader. Capping Malpractice awards delivers a much-needed reform to the Medical Industry. Malpractice in America is pretty over the top. A world class surgeon can pay as much as 75,000.00 a year. It makes it impossible for some gynecologists to, as the thankfully former President Bush, once remarked "practice their love".
What does single payer option represent, in terms of American tradition? It represents the commitment of a country to find the leading edge. Small businesses invariably generate the cutting edge - healthcare plans suffering under the weight of the existing system commonly offer inordinately high premium. Single payer removes that barrier. Many small business owners commonly state that the costs of a plan purchased under the existing, broken system - commonly add as much as 5.00 per hour expense per employee.
Single payer offers the chance for men and women who served their country, to enter into civilian life with a form of safety net. A sense that not only their ability to die for their country - but also the life they could lead and build there and after would be worth reward.
Single payer also offers reference and standard. During the years leading up to the American revolution, experiments in government based on Rousseau's noble savage - the concept of the salt of the earth being the repository of all good therein, were the basis of our country - but at the time, were more or less an experiment that our founding fathers and a few really cool french people were throwing around. But not really doing. Remember, the French revolution would come along afterward. They did however, throw some pretty good navy at us to use, during the war.
Trained to train wreck town, incremental proposals have been advanced. These break with the tradition of America setting a standard, leading - finding the edge. Shadow boxing the marlboro man.
Free enterprise, and choice, supported by small business, and the basic concepts of our country - are best served in a framework where basic healthcare follows simple market concepts like .. price? Having the government a player - will mean the systems installed to make end run around the crooked work begun in the days of Nixon - will be obsoleted. America is and always was about taking a chance.
Government-run healthcare isn't that alternative or that direction, it never was. But single payer option is like a cowboy that can help direct the market back towards its free market basis, providing a low cost option to those who need it - and at the same time creating price normalization against diagnostic and procedure code accounting.
Obama's statements today held all the bravado of a Cowboy paid to say something cool about cigarettes, to an organization of Tobacco industry executives. In the end, the toxic combination of existing procedures, practices and standards will implode with or without community to back it up.
But the implication that somehow single payer goes against American tradition calls up the same image, of that cowboy as Marlboro man. He died of lung cancer.